Comics Reviews: Batman 347, Detective 514, Brave & the Bold 186

Batman 347 coverBatman #347 – “The Shadow of the Batman” – Roger Slifer/Trevor von Eeden/Pablo Marcos

This is obviously a filler issue and Batman doesn’t even appear except in flashbacks, so I’m not going to spend too much time on it. Basically, it’s about a couple of punks (one is named Barry, we don’t learn the other guy’s name) talking about robbing a bank. Barry is worried, since committing a crime in Gotham is a great way to get your ass kicked by Batman. Barry tells a story he heard about a jailbreak where a bunch of prisoners fled into the woods. Batman hunted them down one by one and finally nabbed the bulk of them in an abandoned barn, even though Batman had taken aBatman hunts escapees bullet in the ribs. Barry’s friend says that’s spooky, but he heard Batman is away on a mission with the JLA so they shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Barry says he isn’t just worried about Batman catching them; ripping people off causes a ripple effect that hurts other people indirectly. Barry then tells another story, one he was personally (if tangentially) involved with. Only a few blocks away, a neighbourhood rebel named Jeremiah Jones was burning down crappy tenements to get the city’s attention. He made sure the buildings were empty before torching them and since the people in the neighbourhood were behind him, the cops couldn’t figure out who was doing it. Batman checked around the neighbourhood and got some info from an old couple (Henry and Martha). Henry (who had emphysema or Jeremiah stirring people upsome similar lung affliction) told Batman about Jeremiah and where to find him. Batman eavesdropped on Jeremiah’s community meeting and showed up at the site of his next arson. But with the entire neighbourhood backing Jeremiah, nobody was willing to act as witness against him, so Batman went back to get Henry and Martha as witnesses. He arrived in time to see an ambulance taking Henry away; apparently, a (legitimate) fire broke out and Henry’s lung problems got to him as the firemen were getting him out of the building. But because of all the other fires in the neighbourhood, the water pressure was so low, the building burned down. Batman went back to Jeremiah’s latest arson and dragged Jeremiah into the burning building to let him know about Henry. The people outside didn’t really believe Batman until Martha showed up to confirm it and shame them into putting out the latest fire.putting out the fire Batman dragged Jeremiah out and gave him CPR just as the building collapsed. Barry finishes the story, saying he and the others in the neighbourhood weren’t mad at Jeremiah or worried about Batman … they were ashamed of themselves for inadvertently hurting Martha and Henry. Barry’s friend knew Henry, so he decides to call off the robbery and look for a real job. This issue finishes up with three “Just-a-Moment Mysteries”, where Batman, Bruce Wayne, and Alfred solve crimes by spotting clues.

Detective 514 coverDetective #514 – “Haven” – Len Wein/Don Newton/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Batman in the Batmobile, chasing Maxie Zeus and some of his henchmen along an icy mountain road. Zeus has just escaped from Arkham Asylum and is trying to flee through the mountains, but the winter roads are treacherous. Zeus directs his henchmen to drive through a barrier and when Batman tries to follow, the Batmobile slides over the embankment and crashes down the slope. Batman is thrown clear and knocked unconscious. A bird lands on him, then flies away, soon to return with help. A big dude in winter clothesBatman meets Haven picks Batman up and carries him off. Back in Gotham, Dick and Alfred are worried because they haven’t heard anything since Batman took off after Maxie Zeus. In the mountains, Zeus and his men get stuck in a snow drift trying to cut across country. They leave the car and start walking through the mounting snowstorm. Batman wakes up in a cabin, surrounded by forest animals like something out of a Disney movie. A guy named Haven tells Batman he brought him here to help him and he gives Batman some soup. Haven says he used to live in the city but left because living there made him too angry. Batman says it’s a cop-out to retreat from the world Batman vs bearinstead of sticking around and trying to change it. Batman leaves the cabin but stumbles across a pissed-off bear. The bear almost wastes Batman, but Haven shows up to save his ass. (Haven is friendly with all the animals near his cabin.) Haven takes the wounded Batman back to the cabin, but Maxie Zeus and his men are already there. Zeus threatens them, but Haven tries to welcome him and says he won’t resist. Zeus’s men start slapping Haven around, pouring hot soup on his head and trying to get a rise out of him, but Haven refuses to fight back. Batman decks one of the gunmen, who’s ready to blow him away, but Zeus says Batman deserves a grander death. (Maxie Zeus literally believes he’s Greek god—or pretends to—so he does everything in a grandiose and bombastic manner.) Zeus says BatmanHaven goes nuts and Haven should fight like gladiators, but Haven still refuses to fight. Zeus strangles one of Haven’s birds and Haven goes nuts, trying to kill Zeus. Zeus’s henchmen shoot him in the back and Batman pounds them, but Zeus runs off into the snow. Batman tracks him and finds him about to be killed by the bear. Batman drives it off with smoke pellets and drags Zeus back to the cabin. Haven tells Batman the reason he moved to the wilderness was because of his temper … he accidentally killed a guy because he lost his shit. Haven dies and Batman buries him before taking Zeus back to prison.

Batgirl – “Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth” – Cary Burkett/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

This one starts with Batgirl swinging by a carnival where a sideshow barker is inviting people to see the Amazing Snake Woman. Batgirl hates snakes so she keeps right on going. The barker soon finds himself in trouble, pulled into the tent by his star attraction who has somehow morphed into a real snake-woman. Calling herself Lady Viper, she kills the barker, who’s been cheating her out of her fair share of the money she makes, by biting hisBatgirl meets Lady Viper throat. The next day, Barbara Gordon goes to the office where her assistant is reading a story about the attack; it mentions the guy was crushed but attributes the marks on his neck to a vampire. One of Barbara’s colleagues (Barton, the guy who’s usually an asshole to her) gets a letter from someone named Nelson and gets all worked up about it. Barbara finds that interesting but is more intrigued by the “vampire killing”. She checks the morgue and recognizes the sideshow barker, so she heads to check out the carnival. Meanwhile, Lady Viper robs an art gallery, hypnotizing the manager into handing over an old Babylonian snake idol. Batgirl checks out the carnival sideshow and finds a lot of snakes, which creep her out. She really gets freaked out when Lady Viper returns and confronts her. We’ll see how that turns out next issue.

Brave and Bold 186 coverBrave & the Bold #186 – “The Treasure of the Hawk-God’s Tomb” – Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn/Jim Aparo

This one starts with Batman rousting an informant in a pool hall, who runs outside only to run into Hawkman. Apparently, a statue of Horus (the Hawk-God) mysteriously went missing from a shipment meant for the Gotham Museum. The snitch tells Batman he has no idea who stole the statue—or how—but there’s word of an underworld auction of special pieces that everyone is attending, not just crooks, but semi-legit business types too. Hawkman goes (as Carter Hall) to see one of those businessman, a guy named Atherton. Carter asks about borrowing an artifact for the Midway City Museum. While he’s there, Carter notices someBatman saves himself artifacts thought to be stolen and hints that he might be interested in such things. Atherton gives him a list of “special” items he might soon have access to. Later, Hawkman shows Batman the list, which doesn’t tell them who stole the Horus statue, but Batman notices one of the items on the list is the Gotham Eagle, a statue that’s currently sitting on top of a newspaper building downtown. Hawkman stakes out the building and catches his old enemy Fadeaway Man teleporting the statue away. Hawkman and Batman tackle Fadeaway Man, but he uses his magic cloak to disable them and teleports away before Hawkman can grab him. In the Batcave, Batman drops his disguiseHawkman tells Batman that Fadeaway Man is an art collector, who keeps the best of what he steals for himself, and infiltrates museums to case them out for artifacts. Batman says he’ll make a few calls as Bruce Wayne and suggests Carter attend the underground auction. At the auction, numerous crooks mill about checking out the artifacts. Fadeaway Man teleports in to start the auction, but recognizes Carter Hall as a friend of Hawkman. But “Carter” turns out to be Batman in disguise and he goes after Fadeaway Man. The other criminals take off, right into the waiting arms of Commissioner Gordon and the cops outside. Fadeaway Man teleports away, but Gordon congratulates Batman for helping catch all the crooks and recover the artifacts, especially the Horus sarcophagus. But Batman smashes the sarcophagus, telling Gordon it’s a fake. Fadeaway Man stoleFadeaway Man caught the real Horus statue earlier and hid it where nobody would think to look … in the Gotham Museum. He heads back there to gather his loot, but Hawkman has anticipated him and surprises him. Before Fadeaway Man can use the cape to teleport away, Batman shows up and snatches it from him with a Batline. Fadeaway man still has Cagliostro’s magic satchel and pulls out a Mayan sunstone, but Hawkman tosses a war axe and disarms Fadeaway Man so Batman can grab him. Before they get a chance to examine the cloak or the satchel, they both disappear. Batman later explains to Commissioner Gordon that Fadeaway Man recently took a job at the museum, which he found out because he checked with Bruce Wayne, who’s on the museum board.

Noticeable Things:

  • One of the buildings in Gotham has a sign that says “Mishkin and Cohn Attorneys-at-Law”.
  • On the list of questionable antiquities for the underworld auction, one artifact is listed as belonging to Jenette Kahn, who was DC’s publisher at the time.
  • Fadeaway Man’s cloak once belonged to the magician Cagliostro. In later stories, I think the cloak was definitely magical, but here Hawkman says he doesn’t know if it works by magic or technology; he assumes it’s the latter, but points out the two are hard to distinguish at times.
  • One of the underworld figures attending the auction is Penguin. I assume he escaped the police dragnet.

Nemesis – “In the Lion’s Den” – Cary Burkett/Dan Spiegle

Last issue, Nemesis tried to infiltrate a meeting of the Council at Council-member Kingston’s estate, but he was exposed and shot. He stumbled out into the grounds, which are patrolled by lions (since Kingston fancies Nemesis escapes in a stolen carhimself a modern-day Roman emperor). Kingston ends up saving Nemesis when he turns on some spotlights to look for him and his men start shooting at the first sign on movement. That drives the lion away and Nemesis shoots out the spotlight and crawls to the fence. He jumps over, almost passing out but managing to steal one of Kingston’s sports cars before the guards reach him. Nemesis drives like a maniac, finally shaking off his pursuers at a railway crossing just as a train goes by. Back at the estate, a guy named Brewster comes in to see Kingston. Brewster used to work for the old Council leader (before Nemesis and Batman took him down in B&B 170); Brewster tells Kingston that Nemesis has a weak spot, someone he’d be willing to trade his life for … a woman named Marjorie Marshall.

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